Why security guards placed here as he entered room 307? “Hold on, need to keep calm, you just had a TIA, a mini stroke”, he said to himself. Third one in 2 years. An ongoing struggle with aortic valve stenosis does not allow for any daily hassles and aggravations without repercussions. It was a good 10 hours before finally being placed in a hospital room that day upon entering Wellington. Fortunately, the nurse at the urgent care facility which he just visited had supplied him a ‘get in quick and free pass’, so he needn’t wait. With a blood pressure of 216/90, it seemed pretty urgent. Placed into a waiting area in the emergency room, he was able to rest and get calm, bringing down the blood pressure to the 170/80 area. Wellington Regional sure was changing. Last few visits was a relatively easy process to get the attention needed and placed into a room. One, two patients before at the most. Now it was packed, perhaps 20 and inside was worse. No longer one to a waiting room , but 2, 3, 4, with a staff pressured beyond imaginable. Couldn’t help but feel a little compassion for them in such a work environment. Nevertheless, some gentleman had to yell at an attending nurse, misinterpreting her decisiveness for rudeness. “Ignore it”, he told himself, “it can only raise the pressure again.”
Yes, ten hours later, and entering his new living space, the security guards surely stood out. It was 10 pm with the TV blasting. After settling in, he asked, “Anyone watching this TV?”
“Yes”, an abrupt and harsh reply from the bed behind the curtains. “It’s Ok” interjected the guard, “we’ll take care of it.”
They lowered the sound and not until 1 a.m. was it shut off by the nurse. In the interim, our humble stroke patient made a trip to the nurse’s station to inquire what was going on. An inmate assigned to a special room was his first surmise. “No,” said the nurse captain, “just a behavioral issue” and thus security guards assigned, 24/7. Each guard for the next 36+ hours, were either sleeping or were with head buried in their cell phones.
Sleep finally arrived for all, with of course the occasional interrupting checks for blood pressure, temperature, prescription delivery and intravenous hook ups. As the time passed and medical personal made their daily rounds, it became apparent what was going on. He was rude, kept snapping at the nurses and even tried to get violent. Thing is, this patient was confined to his bed by the bed alarm and could not walk by himself anyway. His back was damaged from a street altercation causing pain and paralysis in his legs and feet. This forced the situation of being sent to Wellington Regional.
The attending physician clarified it all when soon upon his visit he indicated to our sorrowful hospital roommate that surgery was out of the question. In a nutshell – he was a drug addict, an alcoholic and homeless besides. His anger was a result of detoxing. Further, there was no way he could recuperate after the surgery as there was no home or support system available for him. He would supply him some pain pills and send him on his way. In the meantime, efforts to visit the bathroom on his own was particularly disastrous – a non-flushing, smelly, pee spraying disaster. Filthy ! And who do you think cleaned it up? None other than our humble stroke patient.
The time of dismissal arrived. “You’re being dismissed,” said his nurse, or should I say released.
“How? I have no clothes, no money and no place to go.”
“Where are your clothes?” she responded.
“You threw them out. You said they were too torn, tattered and dirty to wear, so you threw them out. All I’ve got is this hospital gown”
“Well, you are released so you have to get what you’ve got together”
“I’ve got no home to go to”
“Where were you before you got here?”
“At the Walmart on Forest Hill Blvd and Jog Rd. I stay there.
“Well, there is a bus on the corner to take you there.” “No,” replied the assisting nurse, “that bus goes the other way to Southern Blvd.”
“OK, well then, go to the Walmart on Southern and stay there.
They left the room.
Our other humble hospital patient was mortified. “Tim ! Are you kidding me? [his name was Tim] Don’t you have a place to live, a home, any clothes, any money, any transportation, any way to walk on your own?”
“No, I have this walker, they took my clothes. Just this gown. I guess they are giving me some pain pills. I stay at the Walmart. Have few guys I hang with there.”
Seems the Walmart on Forest Hill Blvd. has a large parking lot, a lot of land in the rear and an adjacent canal full of iguanas. Mike [we’ll call our hospital roommate Mike] and his Catholic conscience kicked in. Could not help but feel compassion in this situation. I mean who wouldn’t? “Here, take my pants and shirt. My wife can bring me another pair.” And take this $10 bill. Buy yourself a bus ticket and a sandwich at Walmart, whichever one you arrive at.”
Tim thanked Mike and left when they arrived with the transporting wheelchair.
We’re not finished. Mike’s blood pressure would not drop. He was concerned. To the night nurse, “Why don’t you don’t you do something about this? It keeps above 170.” To be continued.